Thank you for bringing this perspective, bumbershoot, and if it's not too late for me to say so, I'm sorry you've had to walk this path twice. I hope you feel like you are on a good path with your own bright colors and a radiant smile. To be honest, I've never been a fan of Queen Victoria for a lot of reasons, one of which is definitely her lifelong mourning that became, more than anything else, the core of her identity for the rest of her own life.
Very good points both of you
Albert would have been appalled at the grossly self indulgent behavior exhibited by his widow. I really have to wonder if she wasn’t a little bit mentally ill, because the only other explanation is that she didn’t want the job. But not enough to abdicate for her son, who “killed” his father by making him come to Cambridge where she was convinced he caught a fatal illness. It’s great when you can arrange facts to fit your worldview and then force people to act accordingly.
I’m not a big Victoria fan either.
I'm not a fan of Drina either.
I honestly believe she was a mid-range narcissist.
The most horrible thing for me was, when Vicky's young son Sigismund died.
Instead of comforting her Queen Vic was like...Vicky get it together. I lost my husband.
I wasn't even aware of that action but it further solidifies my dislike of her. I lost any respect or even neutrality I had for her the more I learned about her response to the Irish Famine, especially her finagling of things so that no one could donate more for relief than her, and the Ottoman sultan had to step down the very generous amount he wanted to send.
Yes, this is a prime example of how someone with an enormous ego but limited intellect is a bad choice for a leader. A fact that remains true today.
There is a plethora of examples when her ego (?) was horrible even for these days' standards:
- Alice married to Ernst, Victoria's comment is not "I'm happy for you", well, no "you are married while I am a widow".
- Vicky mentions she would like to spend more time with Fritz, Victoria's answer: "now you understand how I felt about you children". SHE ANSWERED THAT TO HER DAUGHTER, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.
In spite of all that is written about her, both Edward VII, and especially Beatrice, Princess Henry of Battenberg, made sure they sanitized her image to posterity, you would thing after reading this that they took out everything awful she wrote in the famous diaries but no, Beatrice left both some good witticism and really harsh comments on her family, so imagine what was left out.
There are things though that can be guessed quite rightly, her relationship with John Brown, Lucinda Hawksley on Princess Louise's bio theorizes that PL went as far as to threaten to reveal if she didn't back off, and the way she dealt with her family. I wouldn't go as far as to call her a anti-constitutional Queen, had Prince Albert lived more, yes, the Crown would have retained far more power for longer but what they have now, is what they would eventually way for that was the path the current was leading them.
Overall, her most awful side is shown in regards to her family, she could be a very contradictory person, not minding morganatic families, and marriages. Being close to people of no rank while being careful as to remind everyone who she was at all times. Most of what later happened has to with the famous "Kensington System", they raised a very resentful and cloistered princess that eventually turned into a capricious woman, Albert manoeuvred into appearing to her best self but not without its failings, again, a lot of biographers argue that in doing so, and turning her into that "kleines gutes Weibchen", that little good Wifey he eroded those Hannoverian traits that made her interesting, in any case, she ruled in a very important area, named it, and is still associated with the British Empire, she saw its zenith, and died before its evolution.
I'm just sad there isn't more info on her, I read all there is, so unless HM allows people into the archives that have not been seen, i.e. Princess Louise's papers, the rumour of a child born out of wedlock, QV even provided for him, and would explain why PL couldn't have children afterwards perhaps due to a troublesome delivery, for Lorne and her did try.
So, yes, it is a very interesting character but a horrible mother.
I have to put in two cents worth of defense of Queen Victoria, and yes, I'm a bit biased because I find her life and her personal history absolutely fascinating.
She wrote that way to Princess Vicky, Crown Princess of Prussia, only AFTER Vicky had written to Queen Victoria that she would sacrifice her husband and all her other children to bring the dead Sigismund back. (Vicky was over-mourning his loss, just as Queen Victoria was guilty of over-mourning Albert's.)
Victoria grew up without a father; her mother was under the influence of a very tricky character, Sir John Conroy, and Victoria herself admitted she had a lonely childhood, with only 2 older half-siblings (a brother who was 14 yrs older and a sister 12 years older, and was married when Victoria was age 8.) She was given no privacy, was very overprotected (to the point where someone had to hold her hand whenever she used the stairs, and she slept in her mother's bedroom until the night she became Queen). She was made to fear her "wicked Uncles" King George and King William who it was thought might kidnap her from her mother. Conroy was a bully who attempted to coerce Victoria into making her mother Regent until she was twenty-one and making himself her private secretary. The only person she had on her side growing up was her governess Lehzen, who may have had her own reasons to foster emotional warfare between Victoria and her mother.
So if you look at all that, you see why Victoria, who had no experience of children whatsoever and had a strained relationship with her own mother, wasn't the most cuddly, affectionate & playful person with children when she had them. Albert, ironically, was a loving and playful father to his children when they were young, but extraordinarily demanding of them intellectually and morally as they grew, whereas Victoria, who didn't generally like little babies, preferred the children as they grew up, and while she might not have condoned bad behavior, did stand by them as adults when they got into trouble. I think the famous remark "I can never look at him without a shudder" which is often repeated as a mantra whenever Victoria and Edward VII's relationship is discussed, is given too much weight. It was written directly after Albert's death when she was in the worst grief, and later on she would write of him, "he is so affectionate and kind that it is a pleasure to have a little time with him together," when they were in Scotland alone. And she depended on Bertie when things went sideways in the family, i.e., when her son-in-law Louis of Hesse remarried an unsuitable Russian divorcee (she left it to Bertie to arrange the annulment and deal with the woman's payoff). She also depended on Bertie to deal with the "Royal mob" when there were big engagements such as the Jubilee celebrations.
Victoria was painfully honest.
She could write to her daughter Helena: "children very well, but poor Louise very ugly" when that granddaughter was just 2 years old! But as she said to her granddaughter, who yes, thought it rather cruel when she found out about it: "My dear child, it was only the truth!" (This story reminds me of Jack Brooksbank's grandmother who said Jack wasn't the brightest, or something like that, when Eugenie's engagement was announced?)
Well, this post is already far too long but I hope I have put in a good word or two about old Queen Vic. Mind you I don't defend her Irish policy, or the empire-building that took place under her reign, or "Victorian" repressiveness, or racial and other injustices (a lot of which were carried out in her name, but didn't reflect HER beliefs).